Monday, 29 September 2014

Queen of the Spiders and Other Knitting Fables

Raphaela was very proud of her new line of eco-knitwear. It wasn't every day a young designer produced such stunning and innovative runway looks out of upcycled dryer lint.

For all their good intentions, the newly formed handcrafting and free love commune hit a snag during their very first meeting, when Raffi accused Norbert of stealing his 4mm bamboo needles.

The members of the Main Street Stitch & Bitch decided after finishing their first round of projects that perhaps it hadn't been such a good idea that they all used the patterns member Nancy designed and offered to let them use for free. Maybe it was time they all ponied up to buy some patterns directly from the designers on Ravelry.

Keara wasn't quite sure how a simple walk in the woods in her latest creation had gone so wrong.

Marjorie's attempt to turn her her favourite dress into what her boss considered "acceptable business casual attire" had been less than successful. Her co-workers hadn't even stopped making those cheek popping sounds at her.

Some day Jinny and Ransom hoped to have a little granny square of their very own.

Dillon was very willing to model his girlfriend Maribel's handknitted socks for her Etsy page, but was unsure that it was really necessary to pose clad only in the socks in order to keep potential shoppers "focused on the product" as Maribel claimed. At least he'd managed to talk Maribel into letting him place his left foot strategically.

Willa wasn't sure that her therapist's plan to help her get over her arachnophobia needed to involve role play as Queen of the Spiders in his friends' Dungeons and Dragons game, but hey, he was the professional.

Bernadine's new gradient square afghan project had wound up becoming her latest dress design. Hey, that "knitted clothing should not look like afghans" rule only applied to granny square afghans, right?

Chloris had finally figured out a way to put all those extra mesh shopping bags she had lying around the house to good use without making the bags unsuitable for their original purpose.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Make It! Knits 2014: A Review

Interweave Knits has just released a new publication called Make It! Knits, which is a compilation of patterns that have previously appeared in Interweave Knits and Knitscene. Let's have a (second) look at them, shall we? Some I've reviewed before, and I'll be referring to my original reviews for those patterns, because if Interweave can recycle their work, so can I.

The Alameda Cowl. This is a cute, casual accessory, though there are more interesting yarn and button choices for this look.

The Lodi Cardigan. This is a smart and wearable little piece.

The Victor Shawl. When this came out in Knitscene's winter 2013 issue, commented that it "looks to me more like a really big scarf. Nothing wrong with that, of course, as large-scale accessories can be fun and this one has some clever stitchwork". I stand by that. I like the way they've styled it here.

The East Hale Cardigan. I like this one. The zipper and the minimal shawl collar give the classic shawl-collared men's cardigan a modern twist. This would look good on a man of any age, from this very young model to my 76-year-old father.

The Brazel Beret. Nice hat with some good cable detailing.

The Grand Palais Shawl. This isn't unattractive at all, but it's so big and bullky that it looks a little too much like an aghan for me.

A Sign of Affection. When this pattern appeared in Knitscene's Accessories 2013 issue, I wrote that this hat "has one earflap. I don't think I quite understand the name, or the concept. Is there a sign of affection on the one ear, such as a hickey (query: can ears get hickeys?) and is that why it needs to be covered? Is the wearer of this hat so constantly having her ears nibbled that she only needs to protect the other from the cold? I am but a simple and single reviewer and do not understand. All I can think when I look at this design is that the asymmetry would drive me crazy, that I don't find the hat particularly flattering, and that this is not a hat that has ever visited Toronto in the winter. It probably winters in some little love nest in New Orleans."

The Manganese Cowl. When this design appeared in the Knitscene Winter 2013 issue, I wrote, "The Manganese Cowl isn't bad. It has a modern feel to it. I think it would definitely need to be paired with the right kind of coat." To which I would now add, "...and the right kind of hair. Which this isn't."

The Amplified Cowl. When I first looked at this picture for this review, I thought, hmm, good texture and it lies gracefully. Then I searched the archive to see if I'd reviewed it before, and found that when this cowl appeared in the knit.wear Spring 2013 issue, I wrote that it lies gracefully and the texture is interesting. Hey, at least I'm consistent.

The Solstice Scarf. Not a bad oversized lacework scarf.

The Waved Wrap. Very much like this one. It'll be warm without looking too heavy.

The Mountain Ash Pullover. When this pattern appeared in the Knitscene Winter 2013 issue, I wrote, "I quite like the Mountain Ash Pullover, which uses solid and variegated yarns in similar tones to create a striped effect. It's a subtle and fresh way to wear horizontal stripes, which can tend to look not only unflattering but rather juvenile." This sweater still strikes me as very attractive and visually interesting.

The Oana Shawl. This is quite a pleasing shawl. Nice shaping and lacework.

The Knuckle Down Mitts. These have a certain casual appeal aesthetically speaking, I suppose. They don't look very practical to me. It's my fingers that get cold, not my palms.

The Big Thompson Scarf. This is a nice oversized piece. The name amuses me, because in Thompson, Manitoba, a city located 739km (459 miles) north of Winnipeg, where my nephew used to live and work in the mines, you'd definitely want a scarf like this. As I write this on a late September morning, Google tells me the temperature is 8°C/46.4°F in Thompson.

Wavy Lace Capelet. Not a fan of this one. The bottom and end edges look too unfinished. It kind of looks like someone was making a sweater, found out the gauge was way too big, couldn't stand to rip it out, sewed some buttons on it, and called it a capelet.

The Veronica Slouch Hat. When this appeared in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue in 2013, I wrote, "Quite like the Veronica Slouch, even though I don't normally like non-functional buttons as design elements. These ones, however, have been turned into an integral part of the design and would be an excuse to splurge on some really beautiful, interesting buttons." This is definitely a hat that deserves a more interesting yarn and button choice.

The Leadville Cowl. This is another design from the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts issue in 2013, and at that time I called it a beautiful piece that sits well. It still strikes me as a lovely pattern.

Three's a Charm Tam. Nicely textured classic tam.

The Ambrosia Cowl. Not liking this one. It looks rough and slapped together.

The Flamboyant Shawl. This is ever so simple, yet so carefully finished and shaped that it looks polished and terrific.

The Mixt Cowl. This is one of those cowls that hang around the wearer's neck like a sad flat tire.

The Overdyed Ragg Scarf. Not liking this one much. The basic pattern is okay, but this looks like an unsuccessful scrap yarn project where the knitter just added colours at random to get them used up.

The Amstel Hat. Nice textured hat.

The Nederland Circle Scarf. Basic cabled cowl.

Amy's Slippers. These slippers, which have a needle felted lining, look to be the ticket to ultimate warmth and as though they'll stay on, which are both excellent qualities in slippers. Besides that, they're quite nice looking and don't at all suffer from the clunkiness that can be a problem with slippers.

The Emerson Hat. Not a bad-looking hat for the younger, hipper kind of guy, though this particular model was the wrong choice for this item.

The Bryony Cap. Classic cabled cap with a ribbed brim. I bet we've all owned hats just like this one at some point in our lives.

The Ribby Slipper Socks. These, like the Amy's Slippers design, will be warm and stay on, but they do leave something to be desired in terms of style. However, they're not unattractive, will be very comfortable, and will be a quick knit.

The Flash Mitts. These are really basic (to the point that they are entirely lacking in the titular flash), but they'll do the job of keeping your hands and wrists warm.

The Tweed Scarflet. This one's.... okay. It's practical and wearable, and it does have a certain utilitarian appeal.

The Insignia Shawl. Simple yet polished shawl.

The Serpentine Cowl. This is a nice little cowl, though one does have to look past the completely ridiculous outfit it's been paired with.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Knit Simple Holiday 2014: A Review

Knit Simple has released their Holiday 2014 issue. Let's have a look at it, shall we?

For a dead simple scarf, this isn't bad. The colourway is good and the stripework gives it some interest. I'd add a fringe in both colours though, to make it look a little more finished.

These half gloves look to be on the rough side. I am especially not liking the the seaming of two colours on the right one.

These mittens are very cute. I like the idea of reversing the stripes.

Not a bad striped afghan. I think I'd crochet an edging around it rather than working a blanket stitch around it, though.

This little bag is just going to sag out of shape the minute you put something in it and pick it up. The handles look terrible.

I'd call this pencil case "Potholders Go to School".

This purse wouldn't be a bad thing for a little girl, but I would want to track down better flower patterns than those, or go with some other sort of decoration, such as beading.

These half gloves are ever so cute. Love the little hearts set into the ribbing.

Nice simple yet polished cabled scarf.

I wish I could see more of this scarf, but what I can see does look lovely.

This cowl is just too big and bulky to be really attractive.

This cardigan doesn't sit well or appear to be well-shaped.

Very basic tank, but it seems to be adequate as a design and as a piece of clothing. You'll want to select a special yarn for this one in order to give it some visual interest.

Lovely shawl. It'll be warmer and far less likely to snag than all those beautiful lace shawl patterns out there.

Lovely, comfortable-looking cushions.

This sweater concept has some promise, but I don't think it quite got where it needed to go design-wise. The colour blocking just looks a little askew and off-balance.

All I can say about these turbans is that if you're into doing Sunset Boulevard cosplay in your basement in the middle of the night, they'd be perfect. If you're into dressing as Norma Desmond as a group activity, the other cosplayers might laugh at you.

Pretty little baby blanket. The yarn used here was a really good choice — this would look too plain in a solid colour.

Simple little hat. It's attractive enough, and would be a quick, easy knit.

Nice, simple little sweater.

Cute little hat for the little future apiculturist in your life.

This frog hat appears to need surgery to correct its strabismus.

Very cute ladybug hat. It's amazing how cute ladybugs are. I don't see any other kind of beetle or insect appearing on children's clothing. Must be the polka dots.

Oh dear God. The only acceptable explanation I can possibly think of for this one is that it's some kind of coded map for finding the Easter eggs in a few months' time and is not intended for actual wear. Otherwise... if you make this ugly piece of crap for your child, and expect her to wear it, I hope you've been stashing money away in a therapy fund as well as in her college fund.

This owl hat isn't appealing to me. I think the problem is that it's a little too abstract and needed a little more realistic detailing (and sizing of the eyes) to work.

Not a bad panda hat.

This is the cover design, and it's not without a certain charm, but it does have a little too much crap sitting on it. I'd be inclined to embroider flowers and butterflies on the hat, rather than to make them as separate items and stitch them on as has been done here.

An...okay...crocheted fox hat. I think I'd look further than this design, though. I bet Ravelry has something cuter for your Fox & the Hound fan.

I think the decorations on this hat are supposed to be nuts, but they don't look convincingly like them. Please don't send your child off to school in a hat that appears to be decorated with turds. As you might have heard, schoolyard humour is not especially known for its kindness.

These pom poms do look cute in these pretty photos, but I'm not sold on them as home decor items. I can't see them working anywhere but in a child's room, or as decorations for low-budget, crafty-type wedding or party decorations. The bookmark idea isn't bad, but again I'd only make a pom pom bookmark for a child.

Decent-looking colourwork cap.